Why are men’s mental health shunned, why do Nigerians look at it as a taboo for a man to express his feelings, isn’t it feelings that makes us humans, when did emotions become gender based? They too have a right to expression.
Basically, men’s mental health had be left unattended to, untouched and under researched.
Although some mental health challenges like anxiety, eating disorders are more reported in women, men also experience mental health challenges at concerning rates these days and because they are most times unable to express those emotions so as not to be seen as weak they take to harmful vices like drinking, gambling, drugs, excessive spending, etc. Also, it’s has been reported that men are nearly four times as likely to commit suicide than women; and also use more lethal methods of committing suicide.
By research men tend to engage in dangerous self-destructive activities rather than seeking help like women.
Sometimes they may even go as far as avoiding or delaying treatment because of how they feel the society will view them and also wondering how to reduce their masculinity. Nigerian men most times want to be seen and perceived as strong as well as tough and as men that can withstand the harshest conditions but they should also realise that taking a break and sometimes sharing their burdens and concerns could augur well for their mental health.
People living with mental illness often deal with stigma arising from the society’s misunderstandings about the various mental health disease conditions. The pressure on men seems to be heightened by the societal beliefs, responsibilities and expectations which often make it difficult for them to talk about and seek care.
Men aren’t less of men simply because they have to deal with mental health issues and as such shouldn’t be ashamed of seeking help from reputable and credible mental health experts when necessary. The society also should stop piling needless pressure on men not to show their emotional side as the continued suppression of their feelings greatly represses them and pushes them to the wall which makes them react in most times extremely violent and sometimes tragically fatal ways which isn’t in the best interest of the society as we need our men for a balance.
We recall a popular saying in the US when John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the President where media pundits opined that the male Kennedys were so tough that they did not cry. This narrative should change as it is slowly killing men who aren’t allowed to express their feelings and bottle up their emotions which makes them societal risks at the end of the day.
Please let men cry as the Heavens wouldn’t fall!
Faith Abiodun is an Oyo, Nigeria based Mental Health and Addiction Professional.